Richard A. White

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For Richard Alan White the U.S. Congressman from Washington, see Rick White (politician).

Richard A. White is an American public transportation official who served as the CEO and General Manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority during 1996–2006.[1] Prior to joining WMATA as CEO, he served as the general manager at Bay Area Rapid Transit in the San Francisco area. White also spent six years with the federal Urban Mass Transit Administration, which is now the Federal Transit Administration. White is from Massachusetts.

Career[edit]

New Jersey Transit[edit]

From 1981 to 1991, White worked for New Jersey Transit.

BART[edit]

In 1991, White was hired as BART's deputy general manager and became BART's general manager in April 1994 after Frank Wilson vacated the post to become New Jersey's transportation commissioner. When White left BART, his annual salary was about $141,000 per year, not including benefits that increased his total compensation per year to about $180,000.

White inherited an agency with fractious labor relations. Union officials often criticized White's predecessor, Frank Wilson, as autocratic, arrogant, and distrustful of the rank-and-file.

Just months after he assumed the helm in 1994, union members threatened to strike. Governor Pete Wilson imposed a 30-day cooling-off period in July, and the period was later extended to sixty days by a Contra Costa County Superior Court order. Management and members of the unions, which included the Service Employees International Union Local 790 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, disgareed over a proposed contract provision that would have allowed management to transfer workers anywhere within the system. The two sides also disagreed over pay provisions.

During the dispute White revealed his temper in public: "BART's top administrator yesterday angrily told union negotiators, 'It's time for a reality check.'"[2] White asserted that "The issue is money" and that the members of ATU Local 1555 were engaged in "a campaign of misinformation and a lack of honesty" designed to make people believe the primary root of the dispute was work rules. "We have been as flexible and creative as we can...but this hardly resembles a good faith effort," White said.

A strike was averted in late September when workers approved new contracts.

White pushed through a three-year, 45-percent fare increase, the largest cumulative increase in the agency's history. The increase was part of a 10-year, $1-billion program of capital investment.

WMATA[edit]

In 1996, White became general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after Lawrence G. Reuter left to take the top job at the MTA New York City transit system. White was chosen from a field of over 60 candidates, and three other finalists, when he became general manager at WMATA. WMATA was a much larger agency than BART: when White assumed the job, WMATA had over 7,000 employees and a $750 million operating budget. In contrast, BART had about 3,000 workers and a $270 million budget. When WMATA hired White, his total compensation was about $200,000 per year.

A string of incidents in 2004–2005 and complaints of mismanagement at WMATA, however, eventually led to his dismissal on January 11, 2006. White stepped down on February 16, 2006 and was replaced by Dan Tangherlini, as interim CEO.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Metro's general managers," Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, accessed August 31, 2007
  2. ^ Kevin Fagan, "BART Chief Says Union is Wrong," San Francisco Chronicle, September 13, 1994, page A15.

Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Fimrite, "BART Boss Leaving to Run D.C. Transit Authority," San Francisco Chronicle, June 1, 1996, page A15.
  • Dennis Akizuki, "BART Chief to Head D.C. Transit," San Jose Mercury News, June 1, 1996, page 1B.
  • Kevin Fagan, "BART, Unions Talking Again," San Francisco Chronicle, September 7, 1994, page A13.
  • Kevin Fagan, "No BART strike -- Workers Ratify New Contract," San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 1994, page A1.
  • Katherine Corcoran, "BART Exec to Lead N.J. Agency," San Jose Mercury News, January 14, 1994, page 1B.
Preceded by
Lawrence G. Reuter
WMATA General Manager
1996-2006
Succeeded by
Dan Tangherlini